In this world, there are evil spirits called Violencia, possessing humans, driving them to perform the worst and most despicable acts possible, feeding off the wickedness in their hearts, and the suffering they wreak. They are invisible to the eye, except for a handful of special individuals, people who have made contracts with mysterious animal-like beings in exchange for the immense power needed to drive out the Violencia, and seal them away before they can cause any more harm.
Such is the concept for the series The Exploding Girl (Bao Lie Shao Nüalt [爆裂少女]), a Manhua by Shi Tuzi. Essentially what you get when you combine the darkness, gore, and deconstruction of Puella Magi Madoka Magica with the physically-involved nature of combat in Pretty Cure, it follows the adventures of our red-haired protagonist, Bao Bu Ping, as he (she?) protects the weak and the innocent from the wrath of the Violencia, and the wicked people they possess.
Matters quickly get complicated, however, as our protagonist discovers that being an Exploding Girl in this world is far from a safe, simple, or particularly pleasant job, as rescuing unlucky schoolgirls from bullies quickly escalates to gruesome, bloody murders, and eventually the fate of the whole world. Not helping matters is that far from natural allies, her fellow Exploding Girls can be even more of a danger than the Violencia themselves.
Because most of the cast have No Name Given, and to make writing easier, the characters will be referred to as:
- Red/Bao Bu Ping - Our red-headed protagonist.
- Blue/Lan Mao - Ping's ally/enemy, and the deuteragonist
- Green - The first of the antagonistic Exploding Girls.
- Yellow - The second of the antagonistic Exploding Girls, notable for her love for animals.
- Rabbit - Ping's animal mentor and the source of his power.
This manhua provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: A frequent victim of Violencia possession, for obvious reasons.
- Action Girl: The Exploding Girls have no magic to speak off, just clothes that give them superhuman strength, speed, and durability. And boy howdy, do all of them know how to use it.
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: The mysterious mentors generally appear to be tiny, adorable, cartoon animals, straight out of a classic Magical Girl Anime. Their true forms tend to be humanoid bodies with the exact same style of head, and Ping's is a particularly muscular example of his species.
- Anti-Hero: Ping was clearly a delinquent before getting superpowers, but has been shown to use those fighting skills to protect helpless people from bullies. Mao is similarly all for stopping the Violencia and the rogue Exploding Girls, but their methods can be ruthlessly cold, pragmatic, and even sadistic.
- Anti-Villain: Green wishes to protect small animals from cruel abusers and people wanting to profit off that abuse, going so far as to spend almost all her free time at a rescue shelter for animals, and using her small apartment as a sanctuary for strays. She also gleefully murders those same people in cold blood, and tries to kill Ping after he refuses to join her, and now risks revealing her secret identity. Similarly, Green relishes in brutalizing her victims long after the Violencia have been driven out, and only the threat of getting caught by police can stop her.
- Asshole Victim: Who the rogue Exploding Girls tend to kill rather than simply drive the Violencia out of.
- Attractive Bent-Gender: While Ping isn't exactly ugly, his female form is VASTLY more attractive. Mao's two forms are attractive in their own ways.
- Bilingual Bonus: "Ping" can be used for a male or female, convenient if you frequently switch between those two genders.
- Bloodier and Gorier: Quickly becomes this after the introductory chapters, when the blood spurts from getting punched start turning into full-on dismemberment.
- Boobs of Steel: Mao is impressively endowed as she is dangerous.
- Brain Bleach: Ping has this reaction upon seeing Rabbit's true, humanoid form in a Naked Apron, cooking breakfast for him.
- Cerebus Syndrome: While the opening chapter is by no means a light affair, with the exploitation of a young girl for internet pornography and later an attempted rape, events soon become a LOT darker, gorier, and horrific, beginning with chapter 8.
- Clarke's Third Law: Ping doubts that his powers are magical, and later chapters seem to imply that may indeed be the case. They seem to be highly advanced technology from the animal mentors. The Violencia are also implied to be escaped science experiments.
- Combat Stilettos: All the Exploding Girls so far have been wearing boots with very high heels. They use them to very devastating, brutal effect.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Yellow, by way of hearsay from her landlady, and snippets of old newspapers.
- Deconstruction: Of magical girl anime, much like Puella Magi Madoka Magica is, though with the combat style of Pretty Cure. The stresses of needing to keep secret identities, what kinds of atrocities demons would actually compel people to do, and what happens when the wrong people are given superpowers with which to fight them are all explored and portrayed horrifically and gruesomely.
- Delinquents: Ping is heavily implied to have been one before becoming an Exploding Girl, his first appearance being smoking at the back of the school, and obviously having plenty of experience in street brawls and hand-to-hand combat, particularly useful for his new superpowered vigilante career.
- Demonic Possession: The Violencia's MO is to possess people, drive them towards their worst impulses, and feed off the negative energies and human suffering.
- Fanservice: Chapter 6, full stop. There's a shower scene, Ping and Mao stripping out of their clothes, and even a moment of accidental perversion ripped straight out of a classic harem comedy manga.
- Gender Bender: Ping is a superpowered version, gaining their powers alongside a completely human form. Two of the other Exploding Girls so far were originally male.
- First Law of Gender-Bending: Subverted. Ping DOES want to remain as a girl, but Rabbit is having none of it outside of official Violencia hunting business.
- Second Law of Gender Bending: While initially confused and disturbed by the full-gender change that his superpowers require, Ping quickly and enthusiastically goes on to try female clothes, goes shopping for new ones, and enjoying things like make-up and how much more intense sweets taste.
- He Knows Too Much: Yellow attempts to do this to Ping after he figures out her secret identity, but refuses to join her.
- Invisible to Normals: Violencia are invisible unless you have partnered up with an animal mentor.
- I Work Alone: Mao largely has this attitude, due to having dealt with rogue Exploding Girls in the past, and Ping being, well, Ping.
- Limited Wardrobe: Played straight and subverted, depending on which form Ping is currently in. As a male, he will only ever wear the red jacket, black shirt, jeans, and sneakers that he had on from the very first chapter. As a female, he is constantly, willingly, and happily changing clothes all of the time, and even explicitly went clothes shopping soon after becoming an Exploding Girl. Same deal for Mao.
- Made of Iron: The Exploding Girls are able to survive sustained fire from assault rifles, direct hits by RPG, and severe trauma up to and including falling from hundreds of stories straight down. Admittedly, the last has them only barely surviving, but still...
- Magical Girl Warrior: While the presence of actual magic is quite ambiguous, the Exploding Girls certainly look the part, and the Ping's first, extended transformation had much of the usual sparkly, feminine visual effects, complete with conveniently placed censoring graphics. Everything that happens post-transformation, however, decidedly isn't as graceful nor pretty...
- Meido: Mao has a particularly skilled and devoted one, whose resume includes things such as disguises and misleading police, hacking into and studying mainframes for anomalies and underground dark net video rings, and of course, picking out appropriate outfits for her mistress and bringing guests tea.
- Mentor Mascot: The main role of the cute animal critters that join up with the Exploding Girls.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Yellow has this moment when she accidentally kills a dog she thought was being abused by its owner; not helping matters is the dog jumped in to save their master from the killing blow meant for him.
- No Name Given: Aside from the protagonist, Bao Bu Ping, and a police inspector, Jing Dui, no one from the main cast is ever given a proper name. The most we have for distinguishing them is the colour of their hair, personalities, or numerical designations, like Yellow. Even then, it took over 30 chapters before we learned Ping's name.
- Overdrawn at the Blood Bank: The series is quite fond of absolutely ridiculous amounts of blood being spilled. The most egregious example is Chapter 8 with the unfortunate, dismembered and mangled corpse of an unnamed Exploding Girl and her companion, the blood pool stretching out over several pages.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: Yellow's MO. In her mind, animal abusers and those that enjoy animal abuse deserve to be cut apart, crushed, and tortured themselves.
- Police are Useless: As well-equipped and trained the special forces and skilled the investigative team are, they're just not up to the level of an Exploding Girl. Too fast to be captured by cameras, too powerful to stopped with assault rifle barrages or RPGs, and definitely too mysterious for them to even begin to understand.
- The Reveal:
- Green was also a male outside of her superpowered form.
- There is an entire, gigantic laboratory of the animal mentors, with what looks to be Violencia being contained or bred in tanks.
- Sadistic Choice: Mao forces this on Yellow. Either she lets an injured cat die, or risk dying herself from the 100 story drop to the pavement.
- Ship Tease: Constantly between Ping and Mao.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Ping has an extremely unusual natural hair colour, bright flaming red, and Mao seems to naturally have it at that shade also. They seem to be exceptions as the Exploding Girls have more natural hair colours when not transformed.
- Wham Episode: Chapter 8 is not for those with weak stomachs as it vividly and lovingly depicts just what exactly happens when an Exploding Girl's superhuman durability fails her, and how thorough a Violencia can get in ending them.
Alternative Title(s): "Bao Lie Shao Nüalt (爆裂少女)" or "Savage Girls"''